Web content in the age of anxiety

"Nothing distorts intent like anxiety. Anxiety pulls focus from the goal and lets energy flow towards distractions and perceived threats. Anxiety flourishes in the absence of information." 
Muledesign.com

Anxiety is one of the key hidden drivers behind the web.

Our anxiety (fear of legal challenges, negative media coverage, etc) can make our content cagey, vague and stand-offish.

Our users' anxiety (lack of time, fear of undelivered products, credit card theft, etc) can make their engagements tense, their correspondence angry and their reactions dramatic.

We end up exacerbating each other.

But anxiety falls when the right content is delivered with care. Self-assurance from us gives confidence to our users.

"These guys communicate so clearly & are so precise, they are obviously on top of things."

That doesn't mean we say anything & everything online. In fact, it means the opposite. It means we need to be exactly clear about what we say & how we say it - so it can be best understood.

That's what content strategy is for, ie to:

  1. Isolate the right information to deliver via web. (What messages are core? What’s secondary?)
  2. Determine the right depth & breadth of content to publish. (How much is too much? How much is too little? How much is just right?)
  3. Identify the right features & formats for our purposes. (Plain text? Interactive tools? Video? Downloads?)
  4. Produce it in the right way, so it is findable, readable & understandable. (Plain English? White space? Short paragraphs?)
  5. Craft it in the right way, so it is persuasive & actionable. (Compel people to act? Dissuade ineligible applicants?)
  6. Manage it after golive so it remains uptodate and accurate. (Measurement? Lifecycle?)

It's not easy and it takes time.

But for service organisations (eg government, utilities, etc)the pay-off in reduced anxiety (& calls, emails, visits, phonecalls) is well worth it. 

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